The internet is a scary place. You can use it to purchase large skeins of human hair; you can single yourself out for attack by a bunch of 16-year-olds who think your hair looks dumb; you can generate a photo of a hypothetical infant spawned by Orlando Bloom and a rhinoceros. Apparently you can even give the cops access to your fingerprints, which is the scariest possibility of all. That’s what happened to one alleged Liverpool drug dealer, who was nabbed by cops after posting a photo of himself holding a block of stilton blue cheese.
The Liverpool Echo reports that the UK’s Merseyside Police used the photo, posted on an encrypted chat app, to identify the alleged dealer, Carl Stewart, and convict him of conspiracy to supply cocaine, heroin, and MDMA. Why post a picture of oneself holding a block of blue cheese? The why isn’t important; in this scenario, it’s the how that got the dealer. The Echo reports that the photo contained “clear image of his fingerprints and palm,” which police analyzed to identify Stewart. I’m not 1000% certain how that works, but I imagine the police department already had his prints on file and just needed to identify him. In court, he was sentenced to 13 years and six months in prison.
Stewart had posted the photo on EncroChat, the aforementioned “encrypted” chat app that cops reportedly compromised last year. (His handle was “Toffeeforce.”) Merseyside Police told the Echo that authorities have identified thousands of EncroChat users, “all involved in coordinating and planning the supply and distribution of drugs and weapons, money laundering, and other criminal activity.” Perhaps I’m just naturally suspicious, but the idea of thousands of app users all being involved in criminal activity seems far-fetched. I mean, I use an encrypted chat app for journalistic purposes and also to send my coworker Dennis photos of weird hot dogs. Anyway, think twice next time you decide to post a cheese pic, folks.